Backyard Chickens

Backyard Chickens

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With the unstable economy and the problems of climate change, it is essential to look at our ability to sustain ourselves in case of a collapse. Families are downsizing their homes, using older automobiles, and growing gardens in their backyards to supplement the groceries they have to buy. 

One of the most natural sources of protein is eggs.  Yes, I am plant-based, but I raise and eat eggs for the B-complex vitamins and protein sources.  Why am I supporting chickens? Over the last 20 years, I have maintained small flocks of chickens ranging from 14 to my current flock of five. They provide nutritious open range eggs, keep the bugs at bay (no ticks, no fleas, no beetles), provide fertilizer for my garden, and are comical to watch.

I supplement their free-ranging with a mixture of 2 parts layer feed with 1 part of scratch. During extreme heat, they lay fewer eggs than in the winter, but there are always a few in the nesting boxes. I have a henhouse with an enclosed yard in which they sleep and stay in during bad weather. If the temperature is above 40 degrees, I let them run free in the yard. I have a tall redwood fence that keeps them safe. They are omnivores and will eat scraps, their feed, and of course, the bugs.  Each of mine has names and will come running when they see me coming into the yard. I have short wire fences around my garden beds to protect the plants. However, when I am clipping dead leaves, discarding spent fruit or vegetables, they are there for their share. 

It is so funny to see one of them find a bug. Instead of eating it, they hold it in the air and run. All the others chase after her until she either drops it or manages to eat it.  Then they scratch all around her just in case she lost something.  It would be easier to eat it and move on.  I guess I don’t understand chicken rules.

Each chicken needs 3-4 square feet in the coup and pen. They require nesting boxes, watering system, and a feeding box. During the winter, I cover their pen with plastic and give them a heat lamp to make them comfortable. I have discovered my cat sharing their winter quarters sometimes when she decides to spend the night outside.

All my chickens are kept for life (span can be anywhere from 3-8 years), and I don’t eat them. If you think you have the room and want great companions, I suggest starting small and only get what you have time to care. Mine feel like they are the guardians of the back yard, and I agree.

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